Son Turns Life Around After Witnessing Brother's Death. Surprises Family at Graduation


“They’ve always said that the greatest gift you can ever gift your parents, is the gift of education. I’ve planned for this moment for so long and it finally came,” said Hanss Mujica. When Mujica, 24, told his parents that he was suspended from college, they gave him a look that shook him to his core. It was the same “blank” look they had when their other son, Mujica’s brother, died in car accident in 2011.

“Their face was filled with utter disappointment and sadness,” he said. “From that moment on, I told myself that I would never do anything to see that look in their face. I would never do anything to ever disappoint them again.”

So the semester after his suspension, he went back to school with that promise in mind. He applied himself, worked hard for his grades, and began to reap the rewards of that hard work.

The only problem was that his financial aid had also been suspended. He was paying out of pocket, but it soon became too much.

He took out emergency loans from the university, but he was unable to even pay those back. The school withdrew him from the classes he was enrolled in and Mujica had to figure out how to pay for the rest of his education.

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After applying for different jobs, he quit his job at a local bank to find higher paying jobs farther north in Texas. Some friends let him stay with them, rent-free, while he was working so that he could save even more money.

He was able to return to school a year later.

During all of this, he never told his parents his projected graduation date. “I knew I wanted to surprise my parents since I graduated high school, but my mistakes delayed that,” he said.

When the day finally came in Spring 2018, Mujica said that he was relieved.

He set up a fake photo shoot with his parents and sister and hid behind them. Someone off camera handed a letter to Mujica’s father.

The letter starts, “Mom and Dad, there are not enough words in this world that begin to describe how much you mean to me…”

The soon-to-be college graduate then went on to thank his parents for all of the sacrifices they had made over the years. As his dad read the letter, Mujica walked up behind them with a sign that said, “They have no idea I’m graduating.”

His family was already teary-eyed from the first letter, but a second letter had an even sweeter surprise: tickets to his graduation ceremony.

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His dad was overwhelmed with emotion. The family turned around to see Mujica dressed in his graduation cap and gown.

“I spent six years in and out of the university but seeing the reactions on their faces was worth every sleepless night. It was such a wonderful feeling seeing their reaction,” he said.


“I’ve learned that adversity is something that will somehow manifest itself one way or another in our lives, but it is how we persevere through it all that defines our character.”

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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